115: Carlos Vazquez (Miami EdTech)

Carlos Vazquez on Innovation City

“Take the time to pause, reflect, and be strategic. Have your notebook out and look at today, look at tomorrow, and look at next week, too.” — Carlos Vazquez

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Carlos Vazquez, President & CEO of Miami EdTech. Miami EdTech is an education technology non-profit on a mission to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit within today’s educators. Carlos sits down with the team to discuss his journey into the education and entrepreneurial ecosystem, the systemic issue concerning the lack of people of color in the STEM field, helping Black and Latinx teachers gain support and better access to resources, the impact of positive psychology in the classroom, getting teachers excited about technology again, and much more!

They discuss:

  • His experience in the New York public education system
  • Being a first generation college graduate
  • Working in the corporate world after college left him feeling empty
  • He never thought that he would end up working in education
  • A defining moment for Carlos happened after he saved up money to buy a house for his mother and she told him she didn’t want to move
    • His mother told him to use the money to follow his passions instead
  • Restarting his career as an educator in New York City
  • Systemic issue concerning the lack of people of color in the STEM field
  • EdTech has been selected to be apart of a cohort called EcoSystemsforCS
  • Miami educators are different from the rest of the country, because they reflect the demographic of the students
    • ~ 85% of educators in the US are White
    • ~ 85% of educators in Miami are Black and Latinx
  • Carlos wants to help Black and Latinx teachers have better support, training, & resources
  • When Carlos started EdTech, his main goal was helping the community
  • EdTech was originally designed to ignite a conversation, but soon became an accelerator once people heard about it and wanted to take it further
    • The cohort was made up of teachers, tech startups, and community members
  • One of the first members of the accelerator was a local grandmother who had an idea for a making daycare check-ins more streamlined and safe
  • The more voices you have on an issue, the better your chances of getting big picture things done (i.e. policy changes)
  • Soft skills VS hard skills
    • Soft skills like determination and motivation cannot be taught
  • The impact of positive psychology in the classroom
  • ~ 16% of STEM professionals are Black and Latinx
  • Black and Latinx students looking to go into STEM as a profession are not seeing examples and role models who look like
  • them within the industry
  • Getting teachers excited about technology and the ways it can solve everyday problems
  • EdTech has an incubator for educators to see the full process of creating an app, from defining the problem it is going to solve to coding the app itself
  • Miami Dade County school district is the 4th largest district in the nation
  • Classroom involvement by people within STEM has been helpful for students wondering what it’s like in the real world
  • So far, EdTech’s biggest win has been their grant from Microsoft to support their computer science training
  • His personal journey with meditation and taking time to pause, reflect, & look to the future
  • Reach out to Miami EdTech on social media @miamiedtech